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I'd like to first say "hello" to everyone. I must lay down a single rule, and it's commonly known by many as the Golden Rule. Please treat everyone in here as you would want to be treated. I ask that no one "flames" anyone else, or say anything obscene or rude. This is a friendly discussions blog that pertains mostly to computers, music, politics, and religion, but not restricted to just these topics.

If you're looking for some computer help, then I highly recommend by starting with my first part in my series:
Computer Advice Part 1 of 9 - Hardware Terms

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Computer Help Part 8 of 10 - Not-So-Free Software

If you didn't start reading from Computer Help Part 1 of 10 - Hardware Terms, then I highly recommend starting there first before continuing on...

Computer Help Part 8 of 10 - Not-So-Free Software

Here's a list of commercial, recommended, trusted programs that you can use in conjunction with your current programs. I also recommend installing these programs in the order they are listed, from top to bottom:

OSes (Operating Systems):
  • Microsoft Windows XPWindows XP by Microsoft at http://www.newegg.com/ - Still considered one of Microsoft's best and most stable OSes (Operating Systems) with several flavors to choose from below.
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 ProfessionalWindows 2000 Professional by Microsoft at http://www.amazon.com/ - This is a great OS (Operating System) for older computers, especially those running either Windows 95 or Windows 98. This OS is getting harder to find a legitimate, LEGAL copy of, and only a couple of the below varieties apply.
  • Retail - If you want technical support from Microsoft and don't mind paying the extra money for it.
  • OEM - If you're "tech savvy" and never need to call Microsoft for help, save some money and buy the "OEM" version, but you are your own "tech support" if you do (meaning that if you have a Windows problem, don't bother calling Microsoft about it)!
  • Full - This will install Windows no matter if your computer's hard drive is completely empty, or Windows is corrupted and won't run, etc. I definitely always recommend buying the Full version over the Upgrade just in case if you'll ever need to re-install Windows from scratch!
  • Upgrade - You must have an existing copy of an older or same Microsoft Operating System version already installed on your computer to use the Upgrade version. I personally never recommend buying the Upgrade version since you never know when you'll need to re-install Windows from scratch!
  • 32-bit - If your computer has 3GB or less of system memory, and don't plan to exceed this amount with your current computer.
  • 64-bit - If your computer has more than 3GB of system memory (RAM), or planning to upgrade soon to more than 3GB of system memory.
  • Home - Average computer user that don't need any extra features. You can still browse the internet, send and receive e-mails, install and use software programs, etc.
  • Professional - Many colleges and universities require this for some reason, and has some advanced networking features that most people will never need or use.
  • Media Center - For users who import video or watch TV on their computer through a TV card. Having a Media Center PC (computer) connected to a large TV and using a remote control is pretty darn neat!
Archiving (UnZipping) Software:
  • WinRARWinRAR at http://www.rarlab.com/ - One of the most powerful archiving software programs, but not as "pretty" or as easy to use as WinZip.
  • WinZip at http://www.winzip.com/ - One of the most popular archiving software programs for many years due to its ease of use. One of the first archiving software programs I started using, and recommended for novice computer users.
E-Mail Client:
Microsoft Office OutlookMicroft Office Outlook by Microsoft at http://office.microsoft.com/outlook/ - Still considered one of the best e-mail clients on the market, this offers more features and functionality than Outlook Express (comes with Window XP and older) and Microsoft Mail (comes with Windows Vista). It's my personal favorite.

Office Suite Software:
Microsoft OfficeMicrosoft Office at http://office.microsoft.com/ - The most popular of any Office Suites out there, and several versions to choose from, depending upon what you need to use:
  • Home and Student - Only comes with Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote; and it's illegal for ANY commercial use (as the name implies)!
  • Standard - Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook (not to be confused with Outlook Express).
  • Small Business - Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook with Contact Manager, Accounting Express, and Publisher.
  • Professional - Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook with Contact Manager, Access, Accounting Express, and Publisher.
  • Ultimate - Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook with Contact Manager, Access, Accounting Express, Publisher, Groove, and InfoPath.
Financial Software:
  • Intuit's QuickenQuicken Starter Edition by Intuit at http://quicken.intuit.com/ - Brought to you by one of the most trusted software companies, Intuit. This version helps you find tax deductions, in which Microsoft Money Essentials doesn't.
  • Microsoft Money Essentials at http://www.microsoft.com/money - Includes personal investing, which Quicken Starter Edition lacks.
I've heard of a lot of issues using the newer versions of Quicken or Microsoft Money. If possible, try to purchase the 2007 version of either one.

Audio/Video Editing/Burning Software:
  • Roxio Creator at http://www.roxio.com/ - One of the easiest audio and video editing and burning software there is! This is what I learned with until I became familiar with Nero.
  • Nero Burning ROMNero at http://www.nero.com/ - One of the most powerful audio and video editing and burning software, but not quite as "user-friendly" as Roxio Creator. My personal favorite.
Audio And Video Playback Software:
Winamp Pro at http://www.winamp.com/ - This player can do just about anything you can imagine when you also install plug-ins.

Picture/Photo Editing Software:
Adobe Photoshop ElementsAdobe Photoshop Elements at http://www.adobe.com/ - From the same company who makes the most powerful photo editing software, Adobe, but not nearly as difficult to use, though!

Video Editing Software
  • Pinnacle StudioPinnacle Studio at http://www.pinnaclesys.com/ - Fairly easy to use, yet very powerful and can be somewhat complicated when you start dabbling with all of its features and functions. My personal favorite, once you get used to all of the features available.
  • Adobe Premier Elements at http://www.adobe.com/ - A little easier to use than Pinnacle Studio, however, lacks some of the functionality such as importing video files. Since I already have a ton of home videos already stored on my hard drive, I was quite disappointed that I couldn't simply import them and Premier Elements wanted me to re-download all of my home videos into it! AAARRRGGG!!! Great software program if you haven't already downloaded your home movies.
Effective, Preventative, And Trusted Anti-Malware Programs (Used For Your Primary Protection):
  • Webroot's SpySweeperSpySweeper With AntiVirus by Webroot at http://www.webroot.com/ - Usually rated in the top few of the best protection software programs out there, yet, it's easy to use and doesn't ask you about every little thing that pops-up. In other words, it requires very little intervention from you, the user, to use, and still do it's job very effectively, yet quietly. I run this on my wife's laptop computer.
  • Kaspersky Internet Security SuiteKaspersky Internet Security Suite at http://www.kaspersky.com/ - Usually rated in the top couple of the best protection software on the market, it updates extremely frequently (even sometimes a few times a day!), meaning it has the newest updates for the newest computer malware infections. It's so powerful, that other protection software programs even uses its virus scanning engine! However, this program does require some "tech knowledge" to use, since that it also asks very frequently about what to allow and what to block. I don't recommend this for the computer novice! I run this on my personal desktop computer.
  • BitDefender Internet Security SuiteBitDefender Internet Security Suite at http://www.bitdefender.com/ - Although I've never actually used this software program, if it's anything like their online scanner, then it's very powerful at finding and removing really nasty stuff!!! Like Kaspersky, it's often rated in the top couple of best protection software programs you can buy.
And a word of advice... don't put your entire faith into any single protection software, including those listed above. It's always a good idea to also run a few different, free protection software (Computer Help Part 7 of 10 - Free Software) just to make sure that your main (primary) protection software is doing its job. I really wouldn't put your faith solely into AVG, McAfee, or Norton!!! These are good at detecting and removing viruses, but not-so-good with adware, spyware, and other computer malware infections! The protection software programs I have listed above not only just as good, if not better, at detecting viruses, plus they're MUCH better at detecting other malware threats and annoyances! Please trust me and my 15+ years of both personal and professional experience on this. I've just about tried most of them throughout the years, and I've had different success rates with each one.
And since one of the protection software programs listed above will be your primary defense against computer malware infections, be sure to keep it updated, running, subscribed, and run full system scans at least once a week! Most of these programs will automatically update and run full system scans weekly and notify you if your subscription is about to run out, but it's always a good idea to take a few minutes out of each week to manually check all of this yourself. If you don't, it could easily cost you up to $300 for us to fix it for you at the Geek Squad!

Data BackUp Software:
Acronis True ImageAcronis True Image at http://www.acronis.com/ - Very powerful, yet very easy to use for backing-up your important data or even creating an image (an exact duplicate) of your entire hard drive, with many options as to where and how you want to backup your files to. Even automatically breaks large amounts of data automatically onto any kind of discs/disks you can throw at it!
If you don't backup your data, be prepared to spend anywhere from $100 to even up to $1,600 for us to backup your data at the Geek Squad in the event of a hardware or software failure! Always remember, I know of no one, including Best Buy, that sells a warranty that also guarantees backing-up your data! Backing-up your data is YOUR responsibility, and NOT ours! Is your home owner's insurance responsible for replacing your damaged or stolen pictures that you don't have copies of?

DVD Movie BackUp Software:
  • SlySoft's AnyDVDAnyDVD by SlySoft at http://www.slysoft.com/ - This nifty little software program runs in the background, and the only evidence of it running is a little fox icon near your clock in the bottom-right-corner of your screen. However, what this nifty little program does is remove all of the copywrite protection software found on almost any DVD movie you can buy, including difficult ones such as Disney and Sony movies. So, your computer actually thinks the DVD movie is a home-made movie that can be easily copied and even edited using virtually any other software program you wish! Just be sure to keep it updated to remove any new DVD protection software that comes on any new DVD movies.
  • CloneDVD by SlySoft at http://www.slysoft.com/ - To be used in conjunction with AnyDVD listed above, this software program creates an exact duplicate of any DVD movie you can throw at it, and very easy to use!
I only condone making copies of the DVD movies that you've legally purchased! It's up to you how you use this software! ;-)

These programs should do just about anything most average computer users could ever want to do with their computer, and I hope that they help you as much as they help me daily. However, I can't be held responsible if any of these programs do any damage to your data. I use many of them all of the time and I've had little or no problems using them. However, if your computer already has "pre-existing software issues", then many of these programs may do more harm than good. In that case, immediately backup your data first (discussed in Computer Help Part 4 of 10 - Data BackUp), and then doing a full System Recovery using either your Recovery Discs or the Recovery Partition may solve many of these "pre-existing software issues" (discusses in Computer Help Part 5 of 10 - Recovery Discs). If not, then your problems may lie in hardware issues, which could be a worse situation.

Always remember that once you open purchased software, it's all yours, even if you can't use it or don't like it. Good luck, and research everything first before you try it out!

Recommended Software Review Websites:
Why get stuck with purchased software that you don't like or doesn't do everything that you want? Make an educated software purchase with confidence by visiting these websites first:

Recommended Shareware ("Try Before You Buy") Software Download Websites:

Now, onto Computer Help Part 9 of 10 - Scheduled Tasks...

  1. Computer Help Part 1 of 10 - Hardware Terms (Start)
  2. Computer Help Part 2 of 10 - Software Terms
  3. Computer Help Part 3 of 10 - Upgrading & Maintenance
  4. Computer Help Part 4 of 10 - Data BackUp
  5. Computer Help Part 5 of 10 - Recovery Discs
  6. Computer Help Part 6 of 10 - Protection Software
  7. Computer Help Part 7 of 10 - Free Software (Previous)
  8. Computer Help Part 8 of 10 - Not-So-Free Software (Current)
  9. Computer Help Part 9 of 10 - Scheduled Tasks (Next)
  10. Computer Help Part 10 of 10 - Quick Fixes (End)

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